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25.05.2020, 06:15

Germany's GDP fell by 2.2% in the 1st quarter, as expected

As the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) reported in its press conference and first release of 15 May 2020, the gross domestic product (GDP) was down by 2.2% on the 4th quarter of 2019 upon price, seasonal and calendar adjustment. That was the largest decrease since the global financial and economic crisis of 2008/2009 and the second largest decrease since German unification. A larger quarter-on-quarter decline was recorded only for the 1st quarter of 2009 (-4.7%). Although the spread of the novel coronavirus did not have a major effect on the economic performance in January and February, the impact of the pandemic was quite serious even for the 1st quarter of 2020.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions related with it, households consumed much less in the 1st quarter of 2020 than in the 4th quarter of 2019. Household final consumption expenditure decreased by 3.2% on the previous quarter after price, seasonal and calendar adjustment. Gross fixed capital formation in machinery and equipment was down by as much as 6.9%. Final consumption expenditure of general government and gross fixed capital formation in construction had a stabilising effect. They prevented an even larger GDP decrease. While general government final consumption expenditure rose by 0.2%, gross fixed capital formation in construction increased considerably by 4.1% from the 4th quarter of 2019.

Foreign trade also declined in the 1st quarter of 2020. According to provisional calculations, exports were down 3.1% from the 4th quarter of 2019 after price, seasonal and calendar adjustment. While exports of goods decreased by 4.0%, exports of services increased slightly by 0.7 %. Imports of goods and services were down 1.6%. 

The German economy slumped also in a year-on-year comparison. GDP in the 1st quarter of 2020 was down a price-adjusted 1.9% and a calendar-adjusted 2.3% from a year earlier. Only during the years of the financial and economic crisis of 2008/2009 had there been stronger year-on-year declines, the largest one (-7.9%) was observed in the 2nd quarter of 2009 (a calendar-adjusted -6.9% in the 1st quarter of 2009).

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